Source apportionment of wide range particle size spectra and black carbon collected at the airport of Venice (Italy)

Mauro Masiol, Tuan V. Vu, David Beddows, Roy Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
150 Downloads (Pure)


Atmospheric particles are of high concern due to their toxic properties and effects on climate, and large airports are known as significant sources of particles. This study investigates the contribution of the Airport of Venice (Italy) to black carbon (BC), total particle number concentrations (PNC) and particle number size distributions (PNSD) over a large range (14 nm to 20 μm). Continuous measurements were conducted between April and June 2014 at a site located 110 m from the main taxiway and 300 m from the runway. Results revealed no significantly elevated levels of BC and PNC, but exhibited characteristic diurnal profiles. PNSD were then analyzed using both k-means cluster analysis and positive matrix factorization. Five clusters were extracted and identified as midday nucleation events, road traffic, aircraft, airport and nighttime pollution. Six factors were apportioned and identified as probable sources according to the size profiles, directional association, diurnal variation, road and airport traffic volumes and their relationships to micrometeorology and common air pollutants. Photochemical nucleation accounted for ~44% of total number, followed by road+shipping traffic (26%). Airport-related emissions accounted for ~20% of total PNC and showed a main mode at 80 nm and a second mode beyond the lower limit of the SMPS (<14 nm). The remaining factors accounted for less than 10% of number counts, but were relevant for total volume concentrations: nighttime nitrate, regional pollution and local resuspension. An analysis of BC levels over different wind sectors revealed no especially significant contributions from specific directions associated with the main local sources, but a potentially significant role of diurnal dynamics of the mixing layer on BC levels. The approaches adopted in this study have identified and apportioned the main sources of particles and BC at an international airport located in area affected by a complex emission scenario. The results may underpin measures for improving local and regional air quality, and health impact assessment studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-74
JournalAtmospheric Environment
Early online date10 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Airport
  • Black carbon
  • Size distributions
  • Source apportionment
  • Ultrafine particles


Dive into the research topics of 'Source apportionment of wide range particle size spectra and black carbon collected at the airport of Venice (Italy)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this